Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

Major Professor

Arthur Shapiro, Ph.D.


Achievement, Accountability, Leadership, Qualitative, Performance


This dissertation focuses on perceptions of principals, assistant principals and teachers of their impact on student achievement scores in improving their school's Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test letter grade scores. This information is of importance because we do not have information on how school reference groups (principals, teachers) perceive the grading of schools as defined by the Florida A+ Plan. Specifically, this study investigated perceptions of school principals, assistant principals and teachers on their role in improving the school's FCAT letter grade by two grade levels in a 9-month school year. This qualitative case study analyzes perceptions of factors and behaviors that have made a positive difference in two Polk County, Florida public elementary schools' FCAT. Data collection included interviews of teachers, assistant principals and principals. Study implications include the impact upon students, teachers, administrators and parents, particularly pressures upon all involved at the school level to improve student test scores and therefore, to improve their letter grade on the Florida A+ Plan. Another implication may be the possibility of improving results by decentralizing into small learning communities (SLC's). Conclusions including administrators and teachers perceiving emotional, professional, instructional, and climate support as key factors, but no clear conclusive perception by a majority of respondents was evident regarding improved scores.